Thompson, who is a Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate at Whitecliffe and is one year into the MFA programme, states that "Te kete rokiroki is a venue for sharing and discussion through the collaborative maintenance of the māra kumara, which provides us with fertile ground and stable footing with which to grow our own narratives to take forward.
"My koro Russell, especially as he got older, spent most of his day mowing his paddocks, which in his younger years were used to sustain us as a whānau by growing vegetable and fruit gardens and grazing animals. My sister, cousins and I learned how to do this by experiencing it with him. Tending to the māra kūmara is to take care of and share the stories and mana of not only my koro, but of all our tupuna.
"Te Arawa traditions speak of the kūmara being brought to Aotearoa by Whakaotirangi where it became increasingly important to Māori, as other crops from Te Moananui-a-kiwa proved difficult to grow. Kūmara are associated with the atua Rongomātāne, who is not only the atua of cultivated plants, but also of peace. This association gave the kūmara a chiefly reverence by our tupuna. Kūmara are grown in māra kūmara (kūmara gardens) from tupu or ‘slips’ which are sprouts grown from kūmara from the previous harvest."
The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) is a full time, two-year, low-residency programme enabling enrolled artists to live and work anywhere within New Zealand.
Designed around four, week-long seminars per year, the programme is delivered by faculty and guests that are nationally and internationally respected artists, critics, writers and curators. According to their interests and proposed direction of study, students are assigned two supervisors, one studio and one contextual.
For more information, please visit Blue Oyster Art Project Space website.
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